CIVIL MARRIAGE CELEBRANT/OFFICIANT
The following information is provided as it pertains to my services only and may not be indicative of the practice of other civil celebrants in Prince William County or any other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth.
I am a marriage celebrant appointed by the Prince William County Circuit Court judges and bonded according to law. I have been performing ceremonies since 2007 and retired from the Circuit Court Clerk's office in 2008 after 32 years of service. I currently live in the City of Manassas and have lived in this area for many years.
WHAT IS A CIVIL CELEBRANT? WHY NO JUSTICE OF THE PEACE?
Virginia does not have a Justice of the Peace system. That system was replaced by the Magistrate system many years ago. Magistrates are not authorized by statute to perform marriage ceremonies. The judges of the circuit courts throughout Virginia are authorized to appoint people to perform this service. Most jurisdictions will have a list of celebrants. You may contact any circuit court clerk's office in the Commonwealth to obtain the names of celebrants in their jurisdiction who have been appointed by the court to perform civil ceremonies. Civil celebrants are not authorized to perform religious ceremonies. You should contact the clergy of your choice if that is your desire. Members of the clergy must also be authorized to perform marriages in Virginia. Check with your local Circuit Court Clerk's office for information regarding the authorization to perform civil or religious ceremonies. You should ask your celebrant in which Circuit Court in Virginia they received authorization.
MAKING AN APPOINTMENT
Generally, appointments are necessary. A few days or a week in advance is usually fine. On occasion you may reach me at home for a last minute appointment. If you are planning a wedding in the spring or summer or around holidays, it's best to reserve a celebrant's time as far in advance as possible. Saturdays tend to fill up first. I do not require a deposit or a contract. I will ask that you provide me with a phone number in the event that I may need to reach you. This is especially important the day of the ceremony. Cell numbers are usually best.
It is important that you contact me as soon as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment. I have set this time aside for you and may have turned others away who could have used the time. It is very rare that I ever have to cancel an appointment. I have done this once when there was an unexpected illness in the family. I was able to find a replacement celebrant to cover the ceremonies. In the event this should happen, I will find another celebrant to cover. The celebrants understand this and we work together to support each other.
WHERE IS THE CEREMONY PERFORMED?
Options are limited. Currently, weddings cannot be performed at the courthouse in Prince William County. It is my house, your house or a place you choose. I perform many ceremonies in my house but space is an issue, so I do limit the number of people to six (6) and the number of vehicles to two (2). Venues for small weddings at a reasonable cost are scarce. In the warmer months, federal, local and state parks are a good option. Many restaurants have private space that they will make available if your group is staying for a meal.
The limits placed on the amount celebrants can charge, prohibits the celebrants from providing an office or other facility dedicated for this purpose. It is not cost effective.
I travel frequently to many different venues including country clubs, vineyards, hotels, etc. The celebrants can perform a ceremony anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS?
The fees the celebrants can charge are set out in the Code of Virginia, so everyone should charge the same ($50.). The mileage rate changes, so check for the mileage amount if the celebrant is traveling to your location. Although this statute states that the parties may negotiate payment for additional services, I do not charge for anything additional other than attendance at rehearsals. If I attend a rehearsal, the fee is the same as for the ceremony ($50.00 plus round trip mileage). As you can imagine, the celebrants do not do this to support themselves. The legislature purposely keeps the fees as low as possible so that everyone has access to a marriage ceremony at a reasonable cost. Although tips are not expected they are greatly appreciated.
Keep in mind these fees do not apply to religious celebrants. You may find many websites where they claim to perform "non-religious" ceremonies with fees as high as $300-$500. Most of these have been authorized to perform religious ceremonies but they are expanding their duties as clergy to a business entity. I'm not saying they are doing anything wrong, but just be aware of your options.
§ 20-27. Fee for celebrating marriage.
Any person authorized under § 20-25 to celebrate the rites of marriage shall be permitted to charge the parties a fee for the ceremony not to exceed $50 for each ceremony. Such person and parties may negotiate payment for any additional services agreed to by the celebrant and the parties. Additionally, such person shall be permitted to charge the parties travel expenses to and from the marriage site. If conveyance is by public transportation, reimbursement shall be at the actual cost thereof. If conveyance is by private transportation, reimbursement shall be at the rate specified in the current general appropriations act of the Commonwealth. In either event, the actual cost of the ceremony together with travel expenses shall be given to the parties at least three days prior to the marriage ceremony.
WHAT IT CONTAINED IN THE CEREMONY?
The ceremony can contain just about anything you want to include. I have several standard scripts that I use regularly. Some are very short, others are longer. If you come to my home or we meet for a simple ceremony, it is usually just the standard vows and exchange of rings. Rings are not mandatory.
If you are having a more formal ceremony with a larger group of guests, the ceremony should be a bit longer. I usually include opening words, welcoming your guests, readings and closing words along with the vows. You may include unity candles, sand ceremonies, jumping the broom, hand fasting or any other traditions you choose. If you have special vows you want to say to each other, we can include that in the ceremony. If you are so inclined, you may compose the entire script. There are many examples on the internet.
Since I am not clergy, I do not say prayers or blessings or read scriptures. If this is something you want to include, it is perfectly acceptable to me. You may have a family member or friend do this as part of the ceremony. You just let me know and I will work it into the script.
I hope this information is helpful. I am very flexible, so if you have any questions or special requests, just give me a call/text or send me an email.
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16 Reviews for Wendy Jones
Recommended by 100% of couples
Leslie Vines · Married on 10/18/2019
Awesome Last Minute Experience
At the very last minute, my fiancé and I decided to make it official while on vacation. Wendy, not only accommodated us, she identified a beautiful location and local eateries to continue our celebration.Sent on 10/20/2019
Wendy Jones's reply:Hi Leslie. How thoughtful of you to take the time to share your kind words! It was a whirlwind but all ended well. Best to you both.
Jane · Married on 06/02/2019
Very professional & personable!
We were very happy with our decision to hire Wendy as our officiant for our wedding on June 2. Everyone said how genuine and authentic and "us" the vows were, and she was very flexible in allowing us to have the ceremony exactly how we wanted it. The process was very easy and no-nonsense and as a frazzled bride, I truly appreciated that. I also had a large extended family and our rehearsal was a little intense and crazy and she just went with it! Thanks Wendy!Sent on 06/12/2019
Wendy Jones's reply:Hi Jane. I hope you you have recovered. Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review. It is very much appreciated. You guys were great to work with. Your family was very friendly and cordial. Makes my job so easy. Thanks again and many, many years of marriage. You’ve got this!
Mary · Married on 09/29/2018
Wendy Jones is an amazing officiant! When we saw her officiate our friend's wedding back in 2016, we knew we wanted to hire her for our wedding. Wendy blew us away with her professionalism and calming demeanor. We wanted a non-religious, short and to the point ceremony, and that is exactly what Wendy delivered. Even though we met Wendy the day-of our wedding, our guests were under the impression that we had known her for years and she knew us as a couple (side note: you do have the option to meet her before the wedding day). Wendy is extremely easy to work with -- she is very responsive, provides great feedback and ceremony script options, and punctual. We are so happy with the role Wendy played at our wedding -- THANK YOU, Wendy!!Sent on 10/12/2018
Wendy Jones's reply:Wow May, you are very generous. Although I don’t quite walk on water, I do try to do the best I can for my couples. It’s nice to be appreciated and I thank so much for the opportunity and for your review.